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New report calls for more funding to ensure surplus food goes to charities

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30 July 2020

A report on Covid-19 and Food Supply from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, released today, has called for government to extend last year’s trial funding to “fund FareShare’s efforts to redistribute food from the farmgate to frontline community groups” in the aftermath of the crisis, going on to say that “food waste at a time of such critical need is particularly abhorrent.”

Last year FareShare received trial funding to offset the costs to growers and producers of getting surplus food onto people’s plates instead of sending it to anaerobic digestion or landfill. This resulted in 85% more fruit and vegetables reaching frontline charities and community groups. The charity is calling for the funding to be extended – £5m per year would enable them to get enough fresh food to double the amount of food delivered to charities supporting those need in the aftermath of this crisis.

Chair of the Committee, Neil Parish MP, said: “Covid-19 shocked and strained the food system. Many more people are without jobs, food poverty is on the rise and yet there is still good, healthy food, from growers and producers, wasted in this country. FareShare have been playing a vital role throughout the pandemic, redistributing otherwise wasted food from farmgate to frontline community groups. This project is a lifeline for many people and I want to see this scheme funded and extended by Defra into the future.”

Welcoming the report, FareShare CEO, Lindsay Boswell, said: “We wholeheartedly agree with the recommendation from the EFRA committee to continue the successful Defra trial with FareShare for two more years to support communities decimated by the impact of Covid-19.

“The equivalent of over 10 million meals were redistributed to millions of the most vulnerable people in England during the original nine month trial period from a cold start, with a grant of just £1.9m. With an extension to £5m a year for two more years, now we are up and running with so many more food partners, even more good can be done by allowing FareShare to obtain surplus food and get the equivalent of over 40 million meals per year to vulnerable families, children and individuals.”

“The trial has proven beyond doubt that serious volumes of fresh and nutritious food grown in England that are in excess of customer demand at that moment can be redistributed quickly, efficiently and safely. This has resulted in an enormous financial, environmental and social return on investment to the UK taxpayer and voluntary sector – aiding both the levelling up agenda and the building back greener strategy post Covid-19.”